Selling to Hospitals 101: The Hospital Sales Cycle
May 13, 2021
How Long Does It Take to Sell to Hospitals?
If you’re new to hospital sales—or healthcare sales in general—prepare for a long sales cycle. Selling to hospitals and large healthcare organizations can take many months and requires talking to many different stakeholders along the way, including clinicians, purchasing agents, and C-Suite executives. Of course, the faster you get an appointment with a decision-maker, the faster you may be able to close the deal.
Another way to maximize your window of opportunity is to find out the fiscal year-end for the hospitals you are targeting.
Start by looking up hospitals on GuideStar, a site that provides up-to-date information, including revenue and expense data for the current year, balance sheet data for up to five years, contact information, and a full listing of board members. If you miss a prospect’s normal cycle for procurement of new products or services, keep them in your sales opportunity pipeline but shift focus to someone else in your sales process.
What is the Hospital Procurement Process?
The World Health Organization’s Procurement Resource Guide summarizes published health technology procurement guidelines and best practices for users “in a procurement division or hospital management of a national or regional government health service body.” In this document, the WHO outlines the following steps of the standard procurement process:
- Planning and Needs Assessment
For medical device manufacturers, pharmaceutical companies, and other businesses looking to land their first big hospital contract, the focus needs to be on steps one through three. Although sales cycles and procurement steps vary considerably (see example hospital purchasing guides at the end of this article) the WHO model is a good place to start if you are new to hospital sales.
Be a Better Vendor to Hospitals and Healthcare Providers
If you want to be considered for more hospital contracts, start by focusing on how you can be a better hospital vendor. Purchasing agents and other decision-makers have certain procurement objectives that must be met. Companies that understand these objectives are better able to express how they (and their solutions) can help hospitals achieve their goals.
It is advantageous to talented salespeople who sell into healthcare organizations to be mindful of these goals – do not waste your prospect’s time (as well as your own time) on attempting to sell products and services that do not serve their needs. You must provide the cost savings they require and are challenged to meet, as well as meet the criteria for the medical equipment they need. After all, their ultimate goals are not fully tied to reducing bottom line costs.
All healthcare industry organizations and professionals take very seriously their goals to accomplish the best possible patient outcomes for every individual they treat. Exceptional patient care is always the end goal, and it is vital that any professional in hospital sales understands this true end goal.
What are these objectives? Performance measures and indicators for the procurement process suggested by the World Health Organization include:
Source: WHO Procurement Resource Guide
So, how can you use this information to be a better vendor? For starters, these “performance indicators” give you an idea of the challenges purchasing agents face.
At the early stages of selling to a hospital, focus on demonstrating how your company and/or solution will improve procurement performance based on the above indicators. For example, if you have a low percentage of late or damaged deliveries (supplier management) or other customers report low maintenance and repair costs (quality control of equipment and facilities), make sure to highlight these facts in early talks with hospital purchasing agents.
Example Hospital Purchasing Guides
If you want to learn more about the ins and outs of selling to hospitals, we recommend diving into these purchasing and procurement guides. These guidelines may help those on a sales team who sells into the health system understand the elements that go into the buying decisions of hospitals, surgery centers, medical centers, and other healthcare organizations. Smart salespeople will learn to present their best value proposition and pricing that meets the goals of all stakeholders and decision-makers in the sales process.
- John Hopkins Vendor Policy Guide
- Mount Sinai Medical Center Financial Policies & Procedures User Guide
- Montana State Hospital Policy and Procedure: Centralized Contracting
- Parkland Hospital Purchasing and Procedures Manual
Healthcare Lead Generation Experts
If you rely on selling to hospitals, Intelemark can help you break through barriers and get in touch with the influencers and decision-makers who matter. We know how to communicate with purchasing agents, administrators, executives, and anyone else responsible for making purchasing decisions within a hospital or healthcare system.
Schedule a test campaign to learn how a customized healthcare lead generation and appointment setting campaign can help you deliver the right message to the right audience to drive outstanding results.